January 26, 2022

Sophomore Guard Lightman Emerging as a Star In Debut Campaign with PDS Girls’ Basketball

LIGHTING IT UP: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Jen Lightman dribbles upcourt in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, sophomore guard Lightman scored 14 points to help PDS edge Doane Academy 36-33. The Panthers, who moved to 4-4 with the win, play at WW/P-North on January 27. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After opting out of her freshman season with the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team last winter due to COVID-19 concerns, Jen Lightman is back on the court and having a ball.

“Now that I am finally able to play, it is really nice just to be with the team environment and be around all of these people,” said Lightman.

“I love playing with them so much, it is great playing with them all.”

Lightman found herself in an exciting environment last Friday as the Panthers hosted Doane Academy with a raucous crowd on hand in the PDS Athletic Center. With the Panthers clinging to a 34-33 lead with 23.7 seconds left in regulation, Lightman went to the foul line and drained a free throw to give PDS some breathing room on the way to a 36-33 victory.

“I was so nervous going to the free throw line,” said Lightman, who ended up with 14 points in the win.

“The environment was really nerve-wracking because you have all of these people around you. It was really exciting for us.”

In the early stages, the Panthers jumped out to a 20-4 lead with some exciting play at the offensive end.

“We were able to pass the ball around and really go down the floor a lot,” said Lightman.

“We had a really good momentum, we were able to get shots up. We got really good shots and wide open layups, that was really good.”

With PDS leading by 32-22 entering the fourth quarter, Doane went on an 11-2 run to turn the contest into a nail-biter.

“We were getting concerned because our offense was a little off for a second, we did a new kind of formation 3-2 on defense,” said Lightman, who made a key steal in the waning moments of the game. “After we changed formations we were able to pressure them.”

Lightman connected with classmate Mia Hartman to help put pressure on Doane.

“She is big on the center so I was able to get some balls to her and get some open shots in the middle,” said Lightman of Hartman, who tallied 17 points in the win.

“She is really good to pass the ball to when we need an open shot. She was really good on defense and offense overall.”

In reflecting on her debut campaign, Lightman is feeling good about her progress this season.

“Just playing with a new team and playing some harder teams has helped me open my eyes to see what defense they play, what offense they play,” said Lightman.

“I get a better feel. I am trying so hard just to get a good shot, get some open shots overall and get some more layups.”

PDS head coach Seraphine Hamilton liked the way her players worked for good shots as they built the early lead.

“We had some video on Doane and I was convinced that ball reversals were going to get us going,” said Hamilton.

“In our first two possessions, we ran a play, a continuation play against a 2-3 zone that we have run all along and they ran it correctly. It worked like textbook.”

Hamilton likes the work she is getting from Lightman. “Jen has been working on moving off the ball and it really showed today where she got herself out of that corner that she has been burying herself in,” said Hamilton.

“She has been working a lot on being able to move off the ball and get herself in different positions. When you look at our shot chart, she shot from a lot of different places on the floor today. I think that was really important.”

The defensive effort down the stretch helped PDS hold off Doane.

“Our defense really is what got them there, we went into the 3-2 zone for a little while to give the other team a different look,” said Hamilton.

“Then we decided to get more determined going to man-to-man and be a little more aggressive every time out. Towards the end in the last two minutes, the continual message was you cannot give them a second chance. That was the focal point, they were just able to get a lot of deflections.”

With PDS improving to 4-4 with the victory over the Spartans, already quadrupling its win total from last winter, Hamilton likes how PDS is looking.

“We have individuals who have elevated their game and our game is to really play as a team,” said Hamilton, whose team plays at WW/P-North on January 27.

“We are not a team that is trying to funnel the ball into Mia. We are really focused on team basketball. Our offensive sets are continuations so we are looking for the different options.”

Lightman, for her part, believes that PDS will keep elevating its game.

“We have a new team and some new players,” said Lightman.

“If we keep up the momentum with our team and our games, I think we will be able to pull through and get more wins.”